by Maria Royall, Resonate Pullman member

Last year I did the thing I never wanted to do - I became a mother.

For as long as I can remember, traditional femininity has been a point of contention for me. I was a messy, adventurous kid that was banned from wearing dresses at one point in my childhood. My best friends were boys as early as third grade. I loved sports, stayed up late watching MMA with my dad, and was terrible with kids. Occasionally I’d decide to get dressed up, and as soon as changing into jeans was no longer an option, I’d regret my decision. Growing up with old-school values floating around me, my tastes didn’t agree with what a young lady was supposed to be like.

Fast forward to high school, where Proverbs 31 is on repeat (and out of context) from the mouths of women around me. Again I felt out of place - what if I never get married and don't want to have kids? Is that all the guidance the Bible offers me? Distaste, paired with a multitude of problems with women in my life, quickly gave way to bitterness, and I submitted myself to the belief that I wasn’t made for Godly femininity. Godliness sure, but I’ll pass on the femininity part.

Fast forward again, about a decade this time. God has given me a great gift in my husband David, and we love being the baby-less couple that baby-haters give their approval to. Then one Sunday, in the middle of a sermon, I heard God ask me to unclench my fist and my entire being groaned. David and I talked on the drive home, assured ourselves that people try for months to get pregnant, and decided it’s probably a good idea to be obedient. Less than a week later, I was pregnant. Classic.

This is not the part of the story where I embrace impending motherhood and change my attitude. I grouched my way through pregnancy. I felt no connection to this creature or excitement for the new identity coming for me. I avoided telling people for as long as possible. But the most uncomfortable part was being around other moms and noticing that I was nothing like them. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place - knowing that I was made for this, but not really believing that could be true.

Right after I passed the eight month mark of pregnancy, I attended a Resonate women’s conference. There was a panel of wise women available to take questions, and I asked “What aspect of Biblical femininity do you think is often overlooked or forgotten?” One response struck me - It’s that Godly women exhibit the characteristics of Christ. This man that is the founder of our faith is not only the ultimate example of a good man, but a good woman as well. Discipleship is the process of becoming more like Christ, and that is not exclusive to men. Genesis 5:1-2 says “On the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God; He created them male and female.” We are God’s people, created in His image. We may have different roles to explore, but sanctification is the same core process regardless of gender. It’s chiseling away that which does not depict the Father, and allowing Him to reclaim what was His from the start.

You see motherhood, the one thing I avoided most fervently in over four years of marriage, has been the sweetest God-given fulfillment of the God-given identity I’ve always carried. Much like marriage, parenthood will put your sin on full display for you, your spouse, and your copycat. It’s fun, it’s wonderful, and yes it’s hard - but in the hard times I can either defend the parts of my identity that I’ve protected since my youth, or I can submit them to Christ and allow Him to transform me. Parenthood is discipleship intensified. Having a son has not made me angry, short-tempered, selfish, or undisciplined - those things were all inside me from the beginning, and having a baby depend on me to fulfill his every need is only shining a light on them. Do I justify them, or do I give them up?

Giving up your body is a self-erasing experience, and through it I experienced Jesus in a new way. From conception, when I submitted my treasured plans to God; to pregnancy, when I relinquished my right to my own body; to labor, when I suffered profoundly; to birth, when I surrendered my fears to believe that God made me for this; to infancy, when I sustained my child at my own expense. Jesus was erased completely for my sake, and bringing a child into the world allowed me to experience a fraction of His sacrifice.

And that’s only the physical reality - I am constantly being transformed internally as well. I am learning humility every time my needs or desires clash with the child in front of me. I am learning patience as he learns new and creative ways to make messes. I am learning kindness every time I forget that fatherhood is hard too.

We’re afraid of new, higher levels of responsibility because it puts our shortcomings on display. But the responsibility of parenthood was designed by a loving God who handles our failures with kindness and knows how to give good gifts through our obedience. Motherhood is just another kind of discipleship. Repent, believe, and be transformed.

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